Theresa May’s pathetic offer over EU nationals shames and imperils the nation while the hard Brexit favoured by the Prime Minister, David Davis and Liam Fox means we are edging closer and closer to economic catastrophe, political isolation and social ignominy. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, the Government unveils a cash for votes deal with the DUP, which legitimises political bribery and corruption at the highest level. The fact that these events are self-inflicted will enthrall future generations and historians. Meanwhile, former Tory party leader William Hague writes that it is self-belief that will pull us through. His logic is make-believe. It will take generations to heal the wounds. The Tories are leading the nation back to the 1970s when the UK was the basket case of Europe. Down and just about out. It is ironic that it was forward-thinking Europhile Conservative Edward Heath who took us into Europe. Ironic that it was Europhobe Conservative Margaret Thatcher who took us into the single market and ironic too that it was unsteady John Major who kept us at the heart of Europe despite the best efforts of his treacherous back benchers. After nearly half a century of membership, the UK is more prosperous than anyone could ever have imagined in the early 1970s. Ironic then that it is the Conservative Party who, after all the benefits derived from our membership, are now leading us over the cliff towards economic impoverishment. History will not forget the culprits who are destroying the UK, just as it has not forgotten or forgiven the criminals who destroyed the economies of Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. Ours is not a violent descent but the repercussions will be just as economically and politically damaging to generations of Britons. The only glimmer of hope on the far horizon is the lesson that countries can rise again. Just as Germany did. Just as Italy, just as France did after the second world war. Our anguish is that they rose again because enlightened self-interest led them to become partners and draw closer together. We on the other hand are destroying ourselves by wilfully tearing ourselves apart from our closest neighbours and allies in Europe and causing internal fractures and divisions that will take decades to repair. Ours is a long march, the conclusion of which may be out of reach for many or perhaps even most of those living through the nightmare of far right Conservatism today.
Former Prime Minister John Major has broken his silence on Theresa May’s pact with the DUP, slamming the arrangement as a threat to the peace process. Speaking on the BBC’s World at One, he described the peace in Northern Ireland as fragile with hard men still lurking in the shadows prepared to return to violence. The UK Government not only had to be impartial between the parties in the province, they had to be seen to be impartial and he didn’t know how this could be the case if the Government was in hock to the DUP in order to stay in power. He said an agreement with the DUP was unnecessary as he thought it unlikely that the party would vote against the Government and risk the election of a Labour administration. He also said a deal would have an adverse impact on relations with the Irish government, which he described as the most cordial in several generations. Was Mrs May listening? Will she listen? If her pursuit of remaining in power leads to the unravelling of the peace, which was so painstakingly won, history will not forgive or forget.
Emerging for breath after a catastrophic General Election she didn’t need to call, a weak and wobbly Theresa May announces a deal with the DUP to shore up the Conservative Party’s faltering grip on power. Out go the Prime Minister’s special advisers, largely blamed for orchestrating the election fiasco, on the orders of furious back benchers. Senior ministers Mrs May was planning to fire remain in their jobs. As vultures circle amid predictions of a power grab by Boris Johnson, this is a Prime Minister in office but not in power. Humiliated by the electorate; a 12 seat majority needlessly thrown away, the UK has become the laughing stock of Europe with Theresa May the clown in chief. Amid this new coalition of chaos, one flicker of hope in the shape of Scottish Conservative Party leader Ruth Davidson, who immediately shows her mettle by firing a warning shot over the bows of the DUP on LGBT rights and calls for a new approach to Brexit. But just what is the Conservative Party playing at, going into an alliance with a wretched group of creationists, global warming deniers and social bigots. Just when you thought the Conservatives couldn’t lower their bar any further, they play fast and loose with the Northern Ireland peace process in the pursuit of power. It is dangerous, scandalous and shameful.
Rishi Sunak might well be untouchable in the ultra safe Tory seat of Richmondshire but even he must have been taken by surprise by the latest opinion poll, cutting the overall Conservative lead nationally to a single point. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, as a glance at his election leaflet demonstrates. The Conservatives warrant only a small mention at the bottom of the front page. Instead, Rishi Sunak announces in big bold type (and in capital letters) STANDING WITH THERESA MAY. The leaflet was obviously commissioned and printed before the dementia tax debacle and the manifesto u-turn on social care. Before the stuttering appearances of the Prime Minister before an audience of voters, before the cowardice of her non-appearance in televised leadership debates. The fact is, the more the public has seen of Theresa May, the less they have liked her. And the more they have seen of Jeremy Corbyn, the more they have warmed to him. A few short weeks ago, it seemed like a good idea to concentrate the campaign on Mrs May’s ‘strong and stable leadership’. She even made a speech ridiculing Jeremy Corbyn, referring to his going ‘alone and naked’ into Brexit negotiations. “I know that’s an image that doesn’t bear thinking about,” she lampooned, to cheers from the Tory faithful. It played to the crowd and the broadcast soundbites. But the boot is now on the other foot. The public has not been fooled by the Prime Minister’s magical suit of clothes. It is Theresa May and her cringe-worthy lackeys , including Rishi Sunak, who are now standing in the altogether.
In an amazing turnaround, opinion polls are now predicting a close-run General Election with Labour mounting a credible revival and the Tories all at sea after a series of campaign blunders. A YouGov poll today even suggests a hung Parliament with no one party with an overall majority. This is a far cry from early predictions of a landslide win for Theresa May and her mantra of “strong and stable leadership”. With many voters getting behind Gina Miller’s tactical voting initiative and a youthful surge gathering momentum behind Jeremy Corbyn, this is turning into an interesting campaign after all. A word of caution, however, as young voters do not have a great record in actually turning out to vote, whereas older voters will certainly turn out in force. Even the demantia tax debacle does not seem to have seriously damaged the Tories among retirees, according to polls. What is becoming evident is that a Conservative Government would be calamitous for the UK. A hard Brexit will destroy jobs and investment. What some are asking is, just what will it take for the silent Remainers within the Conservative ranks to wake up and smell the coffee? It is clear that large financial institutions in the City of London have contingency plans to flee to Europe which would decimate London as the World’s financial capital. Motor manufacturers too are making contingency arrangements. Nissan will not remain in the UK after a hard Brexit. And what would it mean for jobs and investment if BMW decided to transfer Mini production to mainland Europe, which is surely on the cards. This is not scaremongering. Many Brexiteers lick their lips at the thought of running the economy under World Trade Organisation tariff arrangements. Right wing Brexiteer John Redwood is on record as saying that, in the absence of German car imports after a hard Brexit, UK motorists could turn to UK-produced cars. Investment Bank JP Morgan is reported to have secured offices for 1,000 staff in Dublin. Airlines are securing legal entity status in other EU countries. With the Prime Minister repeating that no deal is better than a bad deal, Project Fear predictions are looking more and more like a nightmare reality. The UK really is facing a catastrophe of historic proportions.
In a staggering turn of events, the Conservative Party today lays claim to be the party of workers’ rights. This is the same Conservative Party that champions zero hours contracts and looks the other way while unscrupulous bosses treat staff with contempt and raid pension funds. In the same breath as announcing a year’s sabbatical for the haves, Theresa May also announced a massive pay cut for the have-nots. The policy of up to a year’s unpaid leave for workers to care for a relative will only benefit those who can afford it and therefore rules out those on zero hours contracts or working all hours God sends to make ends meet. It’s a gimmick that all the news outlets are leading on, while completely ignoring the real story of the u-turn on the living wage. Under former Chancellor George Osborne, the living wage was set to rise to £9 an hour by 2020. Not any more. The ‘party of workers’ rights’ have decided to jettison this pledge and replace it with rises pegged to average wages, which is expected to see the living wage rise to around £8.20 instead of £9 by 2020. This is a punch in the stomach to low paid workers to the tune of around £2,000 a year. It is one of the policies that a strong and stable right wing Conservative government will be able to enact with impunity.
Prime Minister Theresa May takes great delight in denigrating the ‘coalition of chaos’ ranged against the Conservative tide but her smugness is perhaps most acute when charging Jeremy Corbyn of seeking to take the UK backwards in time with his policies of nationalisation, taxing the rich and questioning the nuclear status quo. These are, the Conservative press delight in reminding us, the failed politics of the past associated with Michael Foot which gave rise to Mrs Thatcher’s landslide General Election victory in 1983. Wait a minute. Let’s shine a light on Theresa May’s policies. Championing new grammar schools, a generation after we thought this divisive subject had been consigned to the history books. Championing fox hunting, again after sane thinkers thought this controversial subject had been settled. Reigniting political trauma is hardly in keeping with the Prime Minister’s claim of uniting the whole country. These two subjects are particularly toxic. The big one however is Brexit itself. Theresa May trumps even Jeremy Corbyn in wanting to take the country back to 1973, when the UK was outside the European Community and widely regarded as the basket of Europe. To a time when racism was rampant and the economy was gasping for breath. In the years since we joined the European community of nations, the UK economy has reached heights barely imaginable back then. But no matter. For this Prime Minister, the unity of the Conservative Party is more important than the state of the economy and the fortunes of the country. She is prepared to follow the right wing nationalist Brexit agenda even though, before the referendum, in candid interviews, she explained the benefits of the UK remaining in the EU. Taking everything into account, she had come to the conclusion that membership of the EU was in the UK’s best interests. Despite this, she appears determined to lead the UK back to the 1970s. The thought of that should be enough to knock the smug look off anyone’s face.
A day after learning that gaffe-prone Boris Johnson was being sidelined in the Conservative Party’s General Election campaign the Foreign Secretary explodes onto the news agenda sending Tory plans into a tailspin. Displaying all the buffoonery and ill discipline that make him an utter embarrassment as Britain’s top diplomat, he launches a personal tirade against Jeremy Corbyn, calling him “a mutton-headed mugwump” who poses an extreme danger to the country. If that isn’t the kettle calling the pot black. Boris Johnson, of course, is the man who led the Brexit campaign, famed for his battle bus promising the NHS £350m a week. As a member of the Government heading for a hard Brexit, the break-up of the UK and economic catastrophe, he really does pose an extreme danger to the country and to all our tomorrows.
Theresa May is positioning the Conservative Party as the party of sound governance, economic credibility and strong leadership but it took just one simple question from Scottish Nationalist Angus Robertson to have the Prime Minister stuttering and almost gasping for breath in the House of Commons. Would she guarantee the triple lock on the state pension if the Tories won the General Election? A simple enough question requiring a simple yes or no answer. None was forthcoming. And the silence of the Conservative Party on this question should be worrying not just pensioners but every household, every tax payer, every trade unionist, every worker in the country. The pensioners may be the first on the list but they won’t be the last because, sure enough, the Tories are coming after your money to pay the Brexit bill.
Just what dreamland is Theresa May inhabiting? She talks about building a stronger United Kingdom but all her actions as Prime Minister point in the opposite direction, with Scotland voting for a second independence referendum and Northern Ireland facing a hard border with the south. She talks about governing for the whole nation but all her actions thus far are alienating the 48 per cent who voted Remain, siding with the right wing hard Brexeters who have become the dominant dark force in the Conservative Party. She talks about protecting the JAMs but allows her chancellor to break a manifesto pledge on national insurance which would have hit the new self-employed earning as littles as £16,000. As we move into the negotiation phase of Brexit, the promises made by Brexit Conservatives on free movement across Europe, access to the single market and money repatriated for the NHS are looking as phoney as they sounded on the campaign trail. The lurch to the right by the Conservatives comes at a time of Labour’s abdication from mainstream politics, leaving no effective opposition to slow the Tory juggernaut. After a long period of centre ground plurality, with Blair, Brown and Cameron, Theresa May is in denial about her march towards little England nationalism, which will wreck the union of the United Kingdom and have far-reaching and long-lasting implications for the economic prosperity we have enjoyed as a member of the European Union. The Prime Minister’s dreamland is looking more like a nightmare with every step.